Speedy resettlement for all IDPs - Dr. Kohona
The Government has explained to the two visiting
foreign dignitaries from UK and France that it expects to resettle all
displaced people from the North at the earliest possible, Foreign
Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona said.
Dr. Kohona told the media yesterday that the matter of
resettlement and several other issues were discussed at length by
visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and UK Foreign Affairs
Secretary of State David Miliband, in meetings with President Mahinda
Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and other officials.
It was noted during the media briefing where Disaster
Management and Human Rights Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe and Secretary
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha also took part that the resettlement process
which has already begun would be expedited as soon as possible in line
with the de-mining and rebuilding of infrastructure programs.
Dr. Kohona during the briefing said that the
successful resettlement programs in the East, where around 95 per cent
of IDPs had already got resettled in a very short span of time, was
pointed out as an example.
It was also brought to the notice of the two
dignitaries that this was a unique achievement in comparison to other
such global experiences, he added.
With regards to the post conflict political agenda, it
was explained that the Government was already in the process of enacting
the 13th Amendment and discussions were taking place to go beyond the
existing limits. In addition elections have taken place in the East with
North too lined up to follow suit.
Thus it was explained that with the present efforts, a
viable political mechanism would soon be in place in which all would be
made to feel comfortable, he added.
Dr. Kohona also said both NGOs and INGOs, which wish
to get involved in IDP welfare and development of conflict affected
areas, were most welcome to do so, if they came with specific programs
and adequate funds to support the projects. However organizations which
come with no such prior plans or ones which have vested interests would
not be allowed access, he added.
Dr. Kohona said the Government had agreed to consider
a request to allow more access to INGOs and NGOs in welfare camps and
villages set up for the displaced.
However during meetings it was pointed out to these
two officials that the Government had already allowed 18 U.N. and
international NGOs into these welfare centres, he said.
"We can facilitate others if the need arises," Dr.
Addressing queries from the media Dr. Kohona also
admitted that some NGOs and INGOs were doing a very good job in helping
IDPs which he described in his own words as 'fantastic'. Their work is
appreciated and encouraged, he noted.
In addition, these officials were explained that
accessing the 'safe zone' was not feasible now owing to prevailing
ground realities, he said.
"Also we have explained that there is no proper
screening process as soon as civilians enter the cleared areas where
there is only a body check to identify possible suicide bombers with a
proper screening only taking place at Omanthai, where the ICRC too is
present," he added.
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe while appreciating the
support of the international community noted that they would only play a
complimentary role to that of the Government efforts when it came to
rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts.
Courtesy : Daily News